I have been studying the concept of cross-bearing again. On several occasions, Jesus told those around Him and following would be costly. Consider his words:
Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace” (Luke 14:25-32; NASB).
It’s more than a silly prayer without meaning. Following Christ is serious business!
I like these thoughts by commentator Matthew Henry:
“When we undertake to be Christ’s disciples we are like a man that goes to war, and therefore must consider the hazard of it, and the difficulties that are to be encountered. A king that declares war against a neighbouring prince considers whether he has strength wherewith to make his part good, and, if not, he will lay aside his thoughts of war. Note, [1.] The state of a Christian in this world is a military state. Is not the Christian life a warfare? We have many passes in our way, that must be disputed with dint of sword; nay, we must fight every step we go, so restless are our spiritual enemies in their opposition. [2.] We ought to consider whether we can endure the hardness which a good soldier of Jesus Christ must expect and count upon, before we enlist ourselves under Christ’s banner; whether we are able to encounter the forces of hell and earth, which come against us twenty thousand strong” (eSword).
Don’t you love Henry’s take on Jesus’ words?! Becoming a Christian is indeed a call to war. Enemies surround us. The world, flesh and devil are all opposed to the King of kings and those whom the King summons to His kingdom. Battles rage each and every day.
Surely this requires an informed presentation of the gospel. Yet so many churches and ministries make evangelism either an escape from hell ticket or another self-help program to try. Few actually disclose the small print of the gospel.
Being a Christian is more difficult than not being a Christian.
“Your best life now” can be quite the challenge.
Dumbing down the gospel makes sense to some. My children were asked on several occasions if they wanted to “ask Jesus into their hearts.” A popular program used by many churches tries to force kids to have “a testimony” in order to advance in the curriculum. Sometimes I think we go out of our way to confuse them.
Wouldn’t a biblically accurate presentation be superior?!
Shouldn’t our children know about the cross-bearing Christ and the call issued to all of His followers: Pick up your own cross. In other words, prove yourself a genuine disciple by listening to your Teacher and living like your Teacher.
Well, those are some of my recent thoughts on the subject. I am particularly interested in this very important question: Am I bearing my cross daily? We should all ask ourselves that question. Maybe we are afraid to do such self-examination. Maybe we are afraid of our answer. Maybe we have some repenting to do. Maybe I do.